The Chinese manufacturer made its name famous with its very first phone and now the upgraded successor arrived, which again offers good value.
It would be an exaggeration to say that Vernee is a manufacturer with a history. In the one-and-a-half year since their start, they put 6 models on the market. The first was the predecessor of our test subject, the Thor. We also introduced the Apollo X of the three-membered Apollo series, and the Mars is also a well-made device.
In the Vernee Thor E, which was presented during this year’s MWC in Barcelona, many of the flaws of its predecessor were corrected. The fingerprint-scanner operates with an amazing accuracy and the notification LED is not left out this time. There were no hardware changes made, however, battery time was significantly improved. A
high-capacity battery was squeezed in, and the operating software is the brand new Nougat system.
The facelifted deity arrived in a less elegant white box. It looked better in black, but of course the main interest is not box, but what is inside of it.
After opening the package, we can immediately see the phone wrapped in a paper bag. Below it are the accessories: we receive a 2 ampere charger, which is capable of fast-recharging, a SIM needle, a USB 2.0 cord, and some reading materiel. The protective foil is already applied to the display.
There is nothing revolutionary appearance-wise; it is more angular than its predecessor, so it looks manlier maybe. With its 144 x 70,1 x 8,2 millimetre size, it is not impossible to use it with only one hand. The device weighs 149 grams theoretically, which I found too light, so I measured it, and turns out that its weigh is actually 165 grams. Such is life: according to fashion magazines the majority of women lie about their weigh, which is understandable; but in the case of a mobile phone, is it needed? Quality of the materials and the manufacturing is perfectly alright.
No changes were done to the display either; it is the same 5 inch, 1280×20 resolution In-Cell IPS display with 294 ppi pixel-density as in its predecessor. As before, this can be adjusted with MiraVision. Viewing arches are alright too, colours don’t become inverted, and there can be no complaints filed against the maximum brightness either, so by and large the quality of the display is convincing. There is no information about the protection of this 2.5D display.
Above the display, the colourful notification LED can be found, along with the brightness and distance sensor, the speech-speaker and the front camera. Below in the middle, there is the Home button (without backlight) and the two dots with the ’menu’ and ’back’ functions. We can use of course the virtual-keyboard, but this takes place from the display.
The power button and the volume control are above each other on the right side of the device. The buttons are not loose, and there are no problems with their pressure points. On the left side, there is the SIM tray with hybrid dualSIM technology. 2 nanoSIMs or one nanoSIM and a microSD memory card can be inserted – this means that when using two SIMs, the storage of the phone cannot be expanded. In the case of the first Thor, this is handled in a better way as there is a separate SD-socket. We can find a dedicated button here, with which we can switch to E-ink mode, thus even with 20% battery level, the phone’s operating time reaches 24 hours – but more of this later.
The 3,5 millimetre jack is on the top of the device, and the miroUSB port and the mic is on the bottom. The back of the phone resemble to that of the Huawei P9 Lite, though here it is made of brushed metal, which looks very hot. The LED flash is in its own socket with the main camera. The fingerprint scanner below them is fast and accurate, it never made any mistakes. Below the brand and model markings, the mono speaker can be found: two little obstacles are placed by the two sides of it, so the sounds are clean even if the phone is placed on the table.
The chipset in Vernee Thor E is the same as in the Thor: 64 bit, 28 nanometres linewidth MT6753. The ARMv8 processor has 8 cores, all of which are Cortex-A53 cores with 1,3 GHz performance, and the graphic adapter is a Mali-T720 series. System memory is 3GB, and the storage space is 16GB, which is expandable to a maximum of 128 GB with a microSD card, so no changes here either.
The HD display and the hardware form again a perfect couple. System speed and stability is fine. Apps start quickly, scrolling does not lag. For gaming performance-tests, I used Real Racing 3, device-warming does not occur, only to a negligible extent on the top-back of the phone.
Its scores in the performance-test can be seen on the pictures below.
As in the case of Apollo X, the OS is the Vernee OS (VOS), which does not differ from the base OS by Google according to the provided information. It was optimised a bit, but no extras were included. Fortunately, in the case of the Thor E, the Nougat system arrived with the long awaited useful functions.
The extra functions of the Vernee OS are grouped around the Smart assistance function. Device silencing when turned face down, unlocking with double tap or turning on the flashlight by drawing a V on the screen – all of these can be toggled here. The inclusion of DuraSpeed was also a good idea: with this the background apps can be controlled. The new function of the Android 7, the split-screen works just fine. As it can be seen in the picture below, I was searching for pictures in Google Photos while watching a YouTube video.
I would also mention 3 very useful things, which usually require root access. Firstly, in the case of VOS, we do not need to twiddle with the system to display seconds on the status bar, which is a must-have in all phones in my opinion. Secondly, unnecessary apps can be blocked e.g. Play Games, Movies etc. Thirdly, apps can use external storage space. What does this mean? For example, a third-party camera app can save pictures to the SD card, or after editing, the documents stored on the said SD card, can be saved. A+ in terms of software.
The Vernee Thor E has an 8 megapixel CMOS sensor with an aperture of f/2.4 and autofocus supported by a LED flash. The 2 megapixel front camera has the same aperture rate. In the workshop of Vernee, the 8 and 2 megapixels were probably found too little, so they were interpolated in the software to 13 and 5 megapixels, which do sound better. This upscaling should end though, and the ancient AOSP-based camera software should also be forgotten. I recommend using the free Open Camera app instead of the original.
The usual test pictures were made in automatic settings using the Open Camera app.
Pictures can be seen in full size here.
We cannot be fully satisfied with the pictures, the algorithm makes them a bit blurry, and some chromatic aberration emerges on the sides, but noise is not significant and the colours are acceptable. In this price-range, one should not expect a miracle in terms of photographic qualities. Videos can be recorded in a maximum of 1080p with 30 fps in mp4 format.
Music can be played with Play Music, which organises songs stored locally or acquired from Google according to lists, performers and albums. FM-radio is not left out, RDS information appears, and programmes can be recorded. Sound improvement is available, but the speaker is not that strong, its volume levels and sound qualities are mediocre. Sounds transferred to headphones are fair and square, high, mid and low sounds are well balanced.
Communication, uptime, conclusion
Both of the SIM trays of the Thor E can use 4G services and dual standby technology, so we can be connected to two networks at the same time. However if use one SIM is used for starting or receiving calls, the other disconnects from its service. Naturally, it can handle B20 frequencies. I found the quality of the sound during calls satisfactory on both ends, but it was not loud enough. 3 OTA updates arrived, the latest of which is concerned with the problems around loudness, and afterwards there were no issues.
- 2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
– 3G: WCDMA 900/2100MHz
– 4G: WCDMA 800/1800/2100/2600MHz
The standard 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-fi modem is dual banded, moderately connective with both hotspot and Direct functions. We get Bluetooth 4.0 with upgraded audio-sharing profiles (A2DP), USB is 2.0 with MTP and OTG functions. For navigation, along with the ground-based routers and antennas, the device accepts data from GLONASS satellites. GPS performances were tested using the iGO Navigation on a 60 km distance. Position-acquiring was slow, but after it found the satellites, the signal was held firmly. Compass, gravity sensor, NFC and infra are not included.
The main strength of the device is obviously the 5020 mAh capacity Lithium-Polymer accu, locked in a unibody casing. The charger, which supports MediaTek’s Pump Express+ technology, charged the phone from 20% to 100% in 63 minutes. The device operated for 3 days with 5 hours actively using the display. Uptime can be extended by using the E-ink function, during which the display switches to grayscale, performance is cut back and only base functions are available. With normal usage and using the power saver function, 4-5 days of uptime can easily be achieved. After watching YouTube videos for 2 hours, the phone only lost 10% battery power: this requires no further comments, this is exceptionally good.
What do we get for our money?
Good value for the money, compact in size, attractive and fast with an exceptionally long uptime. Software is well-optimised, OTA updates come regularly and the hardware is perfect for general use. The fingerprint scanner is accurate and thanks to the 800MHz LTE support, 4G will not be a problem.
Backlights of the capacitive buttons were cut. It would have been nice if the internal storage was upgraded to 32GB as there is no separate tray for an SD card. Photographic qualities are nothing to write home about, but bearable.
The predecessor, which can be seen on the pictures comparing the two, had no flaws during the past year. Vernee’s facelifted device is better, so anyone who chooses the Thor E makes no mistake. The device can be purchased by clicking here, for a price of 110 USD (31 thousand HUF). Choosing the new Europe Registered shipping (after adding the phone to the cart) no additional prices will be charged.